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The Other Side of The Story - The Struggle

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The Struggle

 

Devaraju Maharaju

Eyelids closed.

Nerves move, the lids move, and the eyes are opening slowly.

A scene showing the wind pushing open the door.

Light penetrating past the threshold.

A clear eye. Dark pupil in the center. Pupil turns into globe and revolves around itself.

Oceans, continents, countries as cut pieces of continents, states as cut pieces of countries. The globe revolves. Tides in the ocean….trees, animals, fields, villages, uncivilised people, deserts, cities, civilised people, hills, valleys…..

Tides in the ocean….globe revolves slowly.

Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and in it’s southern most tip India.

India in green showing it’s an agricultural country. Green turns into dark dots. Dots start moving. The spots turn into human heads. Faces appear. People stooping under the weight of responsibilities. In millions. Chaotic and filled without space…….Emaciated face, a small neck below that, chest showing the bony cage, shoulders, stomach touching the back, a torn loin cloth, lean and thin legs, mighty shackles on those legs, hands cuffed in the back, the common man in agony looking like pasted figure on the map of India. All around him everywhere similar people, similarly in shackles!!

 

 

Something fell on the hand. It appeared as if it fell on the ideas. He came out of the stupor and saw. A ball, round like the globe. A ball, round like the earth.

 

“ Dad, My ball…..”

 

Yadava Reddy turned aside and saw. It was Rohin. He was going around the cot for the ball.

 

“ Here! Play somewhere else!” No sooner the ball was in his hands, the boy jumped  and ran to another corner of the room. Round ball filling his little hands. Vertical lines on the ball. Red, blue and black. ..Ball, the earth ball.

 

It was not head ache alone. Whole body was paining. Could not sleep well for the last two days because of  the duties. He has not recovered from the tiredness. Eyes were still heavy with sleep. The room was hot. Sunrays infiltrated into the room and filled it. Traffic sounds from outside were audible. Yonder from the window the Thelawallahs voice was also audible. He was perhaps selling hot onions and other vegetables.

 

“ Little one! Where is the mother?”

 

“ mmmmm?”

 

“ Mother! Where has she gone?”

 

“ mmmmm! Yes.. Mother! …..Mother is it?…..Mother and brother gone to market.” With a lot of difficulty Rohin could tell that and was happy for that.

 

Queues for kerosene and sugar appeared before his eyes. Himself was a commoner. Running around for news was his job……He recalled something. He stood up suddenly. Looked at the watch. It was three in the afternoon. He prepared himself to go out. That took fifteen minutes. Within around an hour he must reach the office.

 

“ Close the doors!”

 

Rohin came running, fear filled in his eyes perhaps that he does not want to be alone.

“ Don’t you worry. Mother must be on the way back. …I will bring chocolates for you when returning in the night. Don’t cry…” Steps were proceeding further as words of solace dropped back. The lane from that house joins the main road. He caught the bus that appeared. It was moving slowly. There were three bus loads of people in a single bus. It was him who wrote that there were buses after every five minutes.

 

He, once known as yadav Reddy and now turned into simple Yadav was hanging on to the bus like he was hanging on to the life. He thought falling from the bus is equal to falling from the life. Struggling for two or three minutes he could make it into the bus. Catching hold of the iron rod fixed to the roof he peeped out of the window. Cool air from the window was a solace.  The man sitting next to the window had a clean shaven head. Dark, lean and with a small beard he was looking uncivilised. A simple muffler made of jute was there around his neck. He was trying to close the window pane. Bus was on the move. Window in the bus, the scenes in the window were also on the move. Shops on the roadside, hotel, garbage bin, iron cages symbolic of the trees planted on the Vanamahotsava day, bare body of the heroine on the banner covering the theatre, compound wall wet with the pissings, Cart selling mirchi bhajji, the one selling ground nuts, males and females chasing themselves on the road, banana seller, singoda seller, taxi cycle shop, mutton shop, furniture shop, petrol bunk, vehicles clamoring for the petrol, their owners like statues in the hot sun, here and there wine shops like sex queens in inviting postures. And the obedient bank.

 

The trial of closing the window was futile. “ Gee aaina utraainchu sir, gali ghusaainchi sataaistandi” ( Please bring down this glass pane. Wind that is blowing is causing trouble. – in typical Hyderabadi slang ) Yadav could not understand. He looked in confusion. The man repeated the same sentence. People listening laughed in themselves. That language  - was then clear. He was asking for the window to be closed. He did it. The man laughed in gratitude. Cough obstructed the laughter. He put the muffler to his mouth.

 

City bus stopped at the Post office. Like the fan was put off,wind stopped and it grew hot. Conductor was toiling about the tickets. Standing itself was difficult. It was like he was standing atop two people and four more were on him. “ Tank bund One” Yadav said. His hand was not reaching the conductor. There were at least ten people in between. He could succeed in buying the ticket with the help of somebody else. He felt relieved. Among so many in the bus it was near death feeling. Stamping each others feet, it was like stamping the mud.

 

Looking at each others back, enjoying each others sweat, picking each others pockets, planning each others falls, stabbing each other,….. Thut!The journey in the bus was like the life in the society. If you extend the looks beyond the window, dogs are fighting for a rag near the garbage bin…..he could imagine mean politicians fighting for power.

 

“ What sir, Laughing so much! Have you read this news or what?” Said the man in the front seat who was reading the paper. Yadav was not aware he was laughing till that man said so. It was a clean man in whites.

 

“ No, No. I recalled something.”

 

“ Is it? I thought you read this paper. It looks the offices will work in the nights and be closed during the day. They are facilitating people to spend time with family members and shopping during the day.” He was laughing unmindful of people in the bus. Yadav also vomited ugly laughter on to his lips. He was reminded of the history lesson about Tuglaq. There was a photo of a burning bus in that paper he was reading. A little above were captions like “Revolt in the armed forces” and “Workers on strike demanding DA” etc. The man turned the page. Here was a photo showing people attacking a Police Station, irritated due to the death of a man in Lathi charge. News regarding the demand of students for text books and teachers. Protection needed for womenfolk - Price rise to be controlled - thousands of women submit memorandum to the governor. Lorry collides with a tree. New cooking utensil from Japan. Murder in a remote village. Nalgonda declared a drought hit area. A boxed item congratulating the Minister. Man with the paper closed it hurling abuses. He is looking out as if searching for his destination. Driver applied sudden breaks on reaching the stop. Bus shook badly. People were already one upon the other, so, that jerk did not make anybody fall on anybody. The man with the news paper  got down hurriedly. Before Yadav could park himself in that seat another man rushing and settling in the seat as if thrown into it occured. The man was in a suit and looked very modern. Had a hand bag with him. Bus moved on, again. It was moving heavily and making a loud noise. “ Emandi! You only! Are You in or not?” a female voice from the front was asking.

 

“ Ya. Ya, I am in alright. Be careful with the kids.” A hoarse old voice from the rear of the bus answered. Some people in the bus laughed. Among such crowd Yadav could not locate where and how those couple were. He stood looking out. An office lazily ruminating the corruption appeared. Cloth shops spreading attraction with the mannequins – smiling grocers shops – general stores – silver and gold shops that grew to unattainable levels – a permanently closed government school – stadium showing the cricket and hockey matches to divert the youth – a private college running under police protection – foot path laid for orphans – café distributing life to the rickshaw pullers – paan shops here and there – hospitals sharing and eating the patients – court that is sending students, intellectuals, and workers to the gallows – stray cattle on the road reminding of the attitude and the activity of the multimillionaire brats – play ground now useful as urinals and lavatories – university paying huge pay packets so that the intellectuals do not raise questions – footwear shop -  sports goods shop and the radio shop – photo center – bar and café – chit ( cheat ) fund office – private hospital – barber shop – bakery – lodging not yielding to raids – book shop – sweet house – over bridge on the sewage canal – railway level crossing – fruit shop set up well like the Nirmal dolls – office of the news paper that closed six months after the launch – watch company – optical center – Xerox corner – snacks and snacks –  printing press on it’s last breath – automobile shop – marriage corner – open place – hotel – Air India office – computer coaching – cross roads – auditorium built for exhibiting rotten arts with added fragrance – boot licking academy – opportunistic akashvani – state assembly that captured the power and dosing, lecturing, and making noises – bus is stopping… “If we are able to exist today like this, it is only due to the planning. I humbly submit to you. On the day when each of the village comes forward and takes part in our future progress programmes, whenever each taluq and each district, every state comes forward and take part in our progressive activities, then, that each India also progresses, I humbly submit to you. More over because you have given me the chance to serve you like this my….” A familiar face appeared and greeted. “ Hello” said Yadav. Foolish speech of a Ministers which he reported for the paper two days back stopped reverberating in his brain. He thought the man who greeted will also talk. But he did not. He was in conversation with some one else. Stains of bird droppings were seen on the domes of the assembly building.

 

He himself reported the statement of the candidate who expressed his happiness for the peoples verdict and declared his aim was to serve people. He himself reported the statement of the defeated candidate from the opposition who said it was against the democratic practices to win wooing people with flowing liquor taps and the bait of money. He reported about the peoples agitation protesting the rape by the policemen on duty, of a woman  who was waiting for a bus. He himself reported the statement of the police officer who declared that she was not raped and was put by the police in a hospital after being found unconscious. The news that the old teacher who was on hunger strike protesting the non payment of salaries was made a victim of lathi was also given by him. Governments announcement that he was sick due to old age and cold was also his contribution to the paper.

 

Bus stopped once again with a jerk. On looking out, he could make out that after the assembly the bus has skipped and reached the next stage. Secretariat is a little further. There was confusion all around the place. Every one in the bus was getting down. What? What happened? Nobody answers. Rush and pell-mell. “ Get down and run away, Brother” conductor shouted. Yadav got down turning into a particle in the flow. Found his stance and looked around. There was confusion everywhere. Tear gas was used at the next crossing and firing orders were in force. That was the information. It is not good to stay there. Bus was turning around. People were disappearing into lanes and by lanes wherever they are. A police van was coming fast from the opposite side. He recalled the beatings he experienced during the turmoil in the old city in spite of telling that he belonged to the press and also the experience in the hospital thereafter . Should he take risk once again? There is no time to think. His feet moved away from there without his involvement. How to reach the news paper office?

 

Yadav entered a lane. It was miserable. Stench, broken pieces caked mud, shops burnt during the caste feuds a few days ago, black soot, ashes, houses in ruins, glass pieces, broken branches of trees, mud and stones…..After running for two furlongs he saw a narrow road. There also the situation appeared  not good. Every body was retreating into the houses. The café  and the paan shop were closed there. People ahead of him rushed into a house on the street corner. He followed them. He could make out after the entry. It was not a house. But a small library. Many were there in the hall. Some one after him closed the door. Fans were whirring. Papers on the tables were trembling. People there, left the tables and reached the windows. Looking at the police force occupying the road.

 

It was inevitable for him to spend some time there. He thought of calling the office on the phone. But there was no phone around there. He looked all around. Almirahs in a row. Papers and books peeping through their glass shutters. Yadav's heart was roaming in the magazines.

 

Mine collapsed and five hundred people perished. Two died in lorry collision. Famine, flood, excess rain, scanty rain, Ministers reviewing from helicopters, sympathy, a dhoti each, and half a kg rice distributed – Hindu Muslim feuds – blood shed – hunger strikes – assuring hands – looting the grain and even the bull after stopping the cart in the jungle – hijacking, the ever lasting politico who survived a plane crash.  In north India’s Hoshiarpur police experiments with the body of  Preetam kaur in a Gurudwara. Neealm, the new bride burnt in the fire called dowry in Gangapur. Peace talks in the capital with the representatives of other countries….. Bills introduced in the Lok Sabha. Cats jumping in to the winning party. Inquiry into the rapes. People revolt demanding punishment to the erring officials. Nepal Kings tour in India. 144 section in force. Curfew. News of extremists dislocating railway tracks and burning files. Award in Moscow for an Indian Danseuse. A mother who fried and ate her own child unable to bear hunger. A man who killed his elder brother for property. Journalists wife raped for his exposing the truth. Acid in the prisoners eyes….

 

Yadav was disturbed. He turned aside. Bound books majestically placed in the glass cases. Harrowing truths filling those books. Books that read the people. Melody master Paul Robson punished for singing freedomsongs. Angela Davis tortured for fighting for the rights of Negroes. Charlie Chaplin who could not reach America since his pass port was impounded. Bertholt Brecht exiled from the country. Rosenberg couple hanged for opposing nuclear arms.

 

Liberty? Individual liberty? Freedom of speech? Freedom of press? …. Writers in jail. Artists in jail. Intelligentsia in jail!!

 

Books were all closed. They appear to be sleeping. Revolts in books, movements in books, wars in books, blood shed in books, books are the human brains. Books are all closed.  But history? History is open. History is awake. History is bubbling and boiling.

 

Yadav moved impatiently. People at the windows were also impatient. He felt as if confined in a jail and the blood flow into the heart was cut off. News paper office – the job – It is the minimum duty of him and the other colleagues to work against the papers selling polished lies and for the understanding of the people. There were many with similar ideology to support.

 

Brandings left by the time on the stomach are clearly seen. People like him have to work like the mirror that shows the truth. Should show the truth to the people. Then they should not stop at the glasses and the windows that stop them from getting into the truth. Only when they are across it is participation in the struggle. Inevitable. In this struggle of life he can’t help being a major part. He looked out of the window. There was not much of apparent change there. The whirring of the police jeep’s wheel was still there.

 

With all the self confidence Yadav walked out of the library hall in pursuit of his duties.

Like an agrarian country India in green color. Green color turns into black dots. Dots started moving. The black dots are turning into human heads. Faces, faces are seen. Faces were red with thoughts. Were trying to break open the shackles on the hands tied at the back. Feet were proceeding further pulling along the heavy chains. Their imprints are being left behind. Little kids are searching and following those foot prints…….

 

Raju called it a documentary.